Despite public health recommendations that pregnant women be tested for STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), it seems that many may not be following through with these blood tests.
A recent study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that of the nearly 1.3 million American women who made blood tests during pregnancy, only 59% were tested for chlamydia and 57% for gonorrhea. The research also showed that follow-up testing to monitor treatment effectiveness is also frequently skipped.
Chlamydia is an STD caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, which can infect both men and women, with an especially high incidence among adolescents and young adults. Chlamydia may manifest with only minimal symptoms, and an infected individual may have painful urination, and a woman a vaginal discharge and bleeding outside the time of menstruation. Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrheae which infects the lining of the urethra, cervix, rectum, throat and eyes.
If untreated, both chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women, which can lead to infertility or ectopic pregnancy — a dangerous condition in which the fertilized egg grows outside the uterus. Both diseases also can infect the baby during childbirth. Chlamydia can cause eye infections or pneumonia in newborns, while gonorrhea can lead to severe blood infections. Both diseases are treated with antibiotics, and transmission can be prevented by proper use of condoms.
Dr. Jay M. Lieberman, one of the lead researchers on the study, said their research demonstrates the huge spread between public health recommendations and practice. He emphasized the important role in the detection of chlamydia and gonorrhea, and because both diseases may have no symptoms and the mother unaware she in infected, testing is essential to prevent transmission of infection from mother to child. He also emphasized the importance of performing other STD tests during pregnancy, such as HIV, syphilis, genital herpes and HPV (papilloma virus).
Lieberman suggested that pregnant women talk to their doctors if they have not yet had STD testing, or if they are not sure. He added that the tests should never be regarded as a judgment on any person or their behavior, but rather a way to ensure a healthy life for a woman and her newborn. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), the numbers of sexually transmitted infections in Brazil every year are significant: chlamydia 1,967,200, gonorrhea 1,541,800, syphilis 937,000, HPV 685,400, and genital herpes 640,900. The Brazilian Ministry of Health estimated 608,000 cases of AIDS nationally in June 2011.
If you are pregnant, it’s important that you ensure that you are tested for STDs and HIV as well as the more “traditional” prenatal testing such as for anemia and diabetes! If you need to find an obstetrician, you can search via our main website (www.procuramed.com). It’s fast, easy and no cost.
A great weekend everyone!
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